Building based on mechanical stiffness of sea-sponges

The Euplectella aspergillum is a cylindrical sponge that lives intropical waters. It has a height of 45 cm. Its exoskeleton consists of hydrated, amorphous silicon dioxide organized into a complexnetwork of spicules that supports the structure. These fibres, whichare 5-10 cm long and as thin as a hair form a crown at the foot ofthe network that anchors the sponge to the bottom of the ocean.

The Lucent Technologies' Bell Labs studied the structure of the spongeand identified 7 structural, hierarchical levels, each corresponding toa fundamental principle that the construction is handled. For example,the fibres of the skeleton organized into a network consisting ofcross pieces with diagonal reinforcement. Such a structure is oftenused in the timbering of very tall buildings or self elements subjectedto shearing forces.

Those sponges use the exact amount of material needed for their problems concerning strength and stability.

The architecture of steel girders in the Swiss Re Tower Norman Foster(180 m), which was erected in London in 2004, was inspired by thestructure of such a sponge, whose skeleton is distinguished by a largemechanical stiffness and an interesting stability for a very fragilematerial.
Moreover the ventilation system of the building imitates the way the sponge ciculates water in order to obtain nutrients.

Source: techniline.sirris.beAdded: 16 May 2008